Our research focuses on the population determinants and consequences of subjective well-being as well as the policy applications of this research. Using global data from over 8 million participants spanning decades, this research program aims to answer three overarching questions:
1. What are the determinants of well-being?
Investigate how major population events (e.g., COVID-19, social movements) and societal developments (e.g., economic development, technological advances) impact citizen well-being
2. What are the consequences of well-being?
Examine how population well-being prospectively predicts key social (e.g., social unrest) and political (e.g., electoral results) outcomes
3. What are the policy applications of well-being?
Explore the general public’s perception of the policy relevance of advancing a satisfying, purposeful, and engaging life
Together, these 3 lines of research will 1) identify promising intervention targets to promote population well-being, 2) discover the benefits that come with a more satisfying society, and 3) explore public support for well-being as a major policy indicator.
To achieve these goals, our research approach is characterized by interdisciplinarity, scientific rigor, and social justice.
- Interdisciplinarity: Our lab studies population well-being through an interdisciplinary lens, and our work intersects with fields such as economics, sociology, public health, global affairs, and organizational behaviour. This is reflected in the topics of our on-going research (e.g., democratic recession, COVID-19 vaccine, the Afghanistan Crisis) as well as the methodological and statistical approaches in our studies (e.g., using cohort studies, compositional data analysis, and convergent cross-mapping which are rooted in epidemiology, chemistry, and ecology). Our lab welcomes lab members within and beyond psychology!
- Scientific rigor: Our lab uses a combination of primary data collection and secondary data analysis with a total of over 8 million participants from over 170 countries to tackle research questions related to population well-being. We develop and adopt open science practices (e.g., pre-registration, open data, open materials). We also have a deep interest in improving causal inference with observational data.
- Social justice: A core value in our lab is the pursuit of well-being for all. For example, on-going research examines how well-being differs for people from different socioeconomic background, racial and ethnic groups, and sexual orientations. Building on our earlier work on the Syrian Conflict, our lab takes a global perspective and is currently examining how well-being unfolds during major population events (e.g., in Afghanistan, Venezuela, and Hong Kong).
How can we ensure a more open, transparent, and replicable science?
Our substantive research on well-being is complemented by meta-scientific research, which is the scientific study of science itself, and reimagines how scientific progress can be accelerated through promoting a more replicable, rigorous, and open science. We examine how the reliability of findings can be potentially improved by ‘Big Science’ (i.e., studies done by large collaborative teams), open science practices (e.g., pre-registration, data sharing), and research incentives.